Is QuickBooks an ERP System? A Comprehensive Comparison

Last Updated: August 23rd, 2023
Researched and Written by: Russ Davidson

QuickBooks is not an ERP system because it only offers accounting capabilities. However, it does have features that make it more than just a basic accounting software. Many small and medium-sized businesses face the challenge of deciding whether to stick with QuickBooks, or migrate to a more comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Knowing the key differences between QuickBooks and ERP systems will help you decide which solution is best suited for your business’s needs.

Whether you’re a small business owner looking to scale or a decision-maker at a larger organization seeking more advanced features and automation, understanding the distinctions between QuickBooks and ERP systems is crucial. This means understanding functionalities, advantages, and limitations, as well as exploring the possibility of integrating ERP systems with QuickBooks, will help to achieve the best of both worlds.

Short Summary

  • QuickBooks Online is an accounting software designed for small and medium-sized businesses, whereas ERP systems are comprehensive business management solutions.
  • QuickBooks Enterprise provides advanced features to manage growing operations. It has several limitations compared to ERP systems.
  • Businesses should consider migrating from QuickBooks when they require a solution that can handle complex business operations across multiple locations and currencies.

Understanding QuickBooks and ERP Systems

QuickBooks is a widely-used accounting software solution created for small and medium-sized businesses to manage their finances effectively. While it provides essential accounting features, such as invoicing, payroll, and financial reporting, its primary focus is on small businesses with less complex requirements.

On the other hand, ERP systems are modular software solutions that manage and automate critical business processes across an organization. These systems provide a comprehensive range of features, such as inventory management, customer relationship management, and human resources management, making them suitable for larger organizations with more complex processes.

QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Online Screenshot
Price Range
   $     $     $     $     $   
   $     $     $     $     $   
Starting Price
$30/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Widely used by most accountants
Tons of integrations available
Customizable invoicing
What We Don’t Like
Comparatively expensive
Few industry-specific features
Limited users per plan
NetSuite ERP
NetSuite ERP Screenshot
Price Range
   $     $     $     $     $   
   $     $     $     $     $   
Starting Price
$99/user/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Hundreds of third-party add-ons available
Feature sets for multiple industries
Highly customizable
What We Don’t Like
Must schedule a consult for pricing details
Tedious setup
Difficult to build reports
Dynamics 365 Business Central
Dynamics 365 Business Central Screenshot
Price Range
   $     $     $     $     $   
   $     $     $     $     $   
Starting Price
$70/user/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud or On-Premises
What We Like
Combined ERP and CRM
Similar interface to MS Word and Outlook
Integrations with Microsoft applications
What We Don’t Like
Not ideal for complex manufacturing needs
May require extensive training
No free version
Acumatica Cloud ERP
Acumatica Cloud ERP Screenshot
Price Range
   $     $     $     $     $   
   $     $     $     $     $   
Starting Price
$1,800/month
Client OS
iOS, Android, Web
Deployment
Cloud or On-Premises
What We Like
Open architecture for rapid integrations
Multi-entity support
Mobile accessibility
What We Don’t Like
Must schedule a consult for pricing calls
High learning curve
Tedious setup

What is QuickBooks?

QuickBooks Online is a popular accounting software designed for small and medium-sized businesses, offering a comprehensive financial tool to simplify and streamline various tasks. It enables users to track time, billable expenses, create and send invoices, track bills and expenses, pay bills online, customize expense tracking, and generate reports for analysis, among other essential accounting functions. With its user-friendly interface and relatively short learning curve, QuickBooks Online has become the go-to solution for many businesses needing a reliable and efficient accounting system.

However, it’s important to note that QuickBooks is primarily designed for businesses with less complex financial management needs. As your business grows and demands more advanced features, you may find that QuickBooks is no longer sufficient to handle your expanding requirements.

QuickBooks Online Sales Dashboard QuickBooks vs ERP
A sales dashboard in QuickBooks Online.

What is an ERP System?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are comprehensive business management software solutions that consolidate all aspects of a business, such as accounting, sales, production, inventory, and customer relations. By providing a single, unified platform for managing various business processes, ERP systems offer a more efficient and effective way to manage your entire organization.

ERP systems, also known as ERP software, cater to larger organizations with more complex needs, offering more sophisticated and customizable financial management functions than simple accounting software like QuickBooks. Additionally, ERP systems can handle critical processes such as inventory management, human resources, and customer relationship management, making them a more comprehensive solution for businesses seeking to streamline their operations and automate manual tasks.

NetSuite ERP vs QuickBooks
The home screen of NetSuite, a popular ERP system.

Features: QuickBooks vs ERP Systems

In this section, we will compare the features of QuickBooks and ERP systems in three major areas: accounting functions, inventory management, and business process automation.

Understanding the differences in the features offered by each solution will help you determine which one is better suited for your business’s specific needs and requirements.

Accounting Functions

QuickBooks provides users with essential accounting features such as tracking income and expenses, managing payroll, invoicing customers, generating financial reports, and maintaining a chart of accounts. These features are designed to help small and medium-sized businesses manage their day-to-day financial tasks efficiently.

In contrast, ERP systems offer more comprehensive and customizable financial management capabilities, allowing businesses to handle more complex financial operations and gain deeper insights into their performance. For example, ERP systems can provide customized, role-based dashboards, enhanced control features, and adherence to GAAP regulations in the U.S. and IFRS abroad.

QuickBooks Online Invoice Creation
Creating an invoice in QuickBooks Online.

Inventory Management

When it comes to inventory management, QuickBooks offers limited capabilities, such as basic tracking of inventory levels and sales. However, it lacks the advanced features and flexibility provided by ERP systems. For example, ERP systems offer options to avert transactions resulting in negative inventory, necessitating the rectification of transaction errors before proceeding, whereas QuickBooks allows one to post a sale of items not included in the inventory.

ERP systems provide more comprehensive and adaptable inventory management solutions, such as multi-location inventory tracking, barcode scanning, and inventory assembly capabilities. These advanced features enable businesses to manage their inventory more effectively and reduce errors, ultimately leading to better customer satisfaction and increased profitability. By implementing ERP solutions, companies can further streamline their operations and enhance overall efficiency.

Priority ERP vs QuickBooks
View inventory counts in Priority ERP.

Business Process Automation

QuickBooks offers basic automation features designed for small businesses with limited users and less complex requirements. These features include automating payroll, streamlining the accounts payable department, integrating banking processes, and configuring workflows for accounting tasks, as well as invoice reminders, simplified payments, and automated digital processes for timesheets, expense claims, and billing.

ERP systems, on the other hand, provide more comprehensive automation features for larger companies or businesses with more sophisticated needs. These features include automated data entry, workflow processes, reporting, and analytics, as well as automated customer relationship management, inventory management, and financial management. By automating various business processes, ERP systems can help organizations save time, reduce costs, and minimize the risk of human error.

QuickBooks Enterprise: Bridging the Gap

While QuickBooks is an excellent solution for small businesses with less complex needs, some organizations may require additional features to manage their growing operations. In such cases, QuickBooks Enterprise, a more advanced version of QuickBooks, can bridge the gap by offering enhanced inventory management, pricing, and time-tracking features.

However, even with these additional functionalities, QuickBooks Enterprise still has limitations compared to ERP systems.

QuickBooks Enterprise company snapshot
A company snapshot in QuickBooks Enterprise.

Key Features of QuickBooks Enterprise

QuickBooks Enterprise extends the capabilities of the standard QuickBooks software by offering advanced inventory management, pricing, and time-tracking features. These enhancements include multi-location inventory tracking, barcode scanning, and inventory assembly capabilities, as well as price levels, discounts, and special pricing rules.

In addition, QuickBooks Enterprise provides features such as job costing, time tracking, and payroll integration, further expanding its capabilities to handle more complex business operations. This makes QuickBooks Enterprise a more powerful option for businesses requiring advanced features without needing a full ERP system.


QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Advanced Sales Report
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Profit And Loss Viewing
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Price Rule Editing
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Sales Orders Viewing
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Inventory Information Page
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Advanced Role Editing
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Add New Role
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Inventory Viewing
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Business Dashboard
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Inventory Dashboard
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Company Snapshot
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Payroll
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Income Tracker
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Credit Card Entry
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Company Preference Pane
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise: Batch Invoices
What We Like
More advanced inventory features than other QuickBooks versions
Higher record capacity than other QuickBooks versions
Includes payroll and employee management
What We Don’t Like
Most expensive version of QuickBooks
Requires annual contracts
Windows only
Overview
Price Range: $$$
Starting Price: $199/month
Client OS: Windows
Deployment: Cloud or On-Premises

Limitations of QuickBooks Enterprise

Despite its advanced features, QuickBooks Enterprise still lacks some essential ERP functionalities such as cloud support, subscription billing, and multidimensional reporting. Moreover, the architecture of QuickBooks Enterprise is too complex to support large data volumes, limiting its application for larger or rapidly growing businesses.

Furthermore, QuickBooks Enterprise has capacity limitations on the number of names that can be added, limited users and file size, is not designed for multi-company accounting, relies on spreadsheets and manual data entry, and provides limited customer support. As a result, businesses with more complex needs may still need to consider migrating to an ERP system for a more comprehensive solution.

When to Consider Migrating from QuickBooks to an ERP System

Understanding when to transition from QuickBooks to an ERP system can help businesses ensure they have the right tools to support their growth and manage increasingly complex operations.

Businesses may consider migrating to an ERP system when they need to manage their entire business across multiple locations and currencies.

Growth and Scalability

ERP systems are better suited for businesses with rapid growth and expansion plans, as they offer comprehensive functionality, agility, and scalability to support the increasing demands of a growing organization. In contrast, QuickBooks is designed specifically for small businesses with limited growth potential and may struggle to handle the needs of a rapidly expanding company.

QuickBooks may be a more suitable option for businesses with low-growth policies due to its user-friendly interface and lower technical expertise requirements compared to ERP systems. However, as your business grows and requires more advanced features, you may need to consider migrating to an ERP system to ensure your organization can scale effectively and efficiently.

Complex Business Operations

ERP systems are designed to handle complex business processes and provide a comprehensive overview of operations, making them an ideal choice for businesses with more complex requirements. These systems offer a wide range of features, such as automation of manual processes, integration and real-time data sharing, and robust financial management and data analytics, enabling businesses to manage their entire organization efficiently and effectively.

In contrast, QuickBooks is better suited for simpler businesses with less complex needs, providing basic accounting functions, inventory management, and reporting. While it may be sufficient for small businesses, organizations with more complex operations may find that QuickBooks cannot keep up with their growing demands, making migrating to an ERP system a more suitable choice.

Let us find top ERP software recommendations for your business.

ERP Integration with QuickBooks: The Best of Both Worlds?

Integrating QuickBooks with other ERP systems can potentially provide the best of both worlds, offering additional functionalities to enhance your existing accounting software.

However, there are also challenges and considerations to consider when deciding whether to pursue this integration, which we will explore in this section.

Benefits of Integration

Integrating ERP systems with QuickBooks can offer several advantages, such as providing enhanced features like warehouse management, human resources management, and supply chain management. By combining the capabilities of both solutions, businesses can benefit from a more comprehensive and powerful toolset to manage their operations.

Furthermore, integrating ERP systems with QuickBooks can help streamline operations, reduce labor costs, eliminate errors, and provide a unified view of information from multiple systems in real-time. This integration can enable organizations to plan, integrate, and automate business processes more effectively, ultimately improving efficiency and productivity.

Fishbowl Inventory Integration With QuickBooks
Fishbowl is a popular inventory integration with QuickBooks.

Challenges and Considerations

While integrating ERP systems with QuickBooks can offer numerous benefits, there are also challenges and considerations to be aware of. For example, integration can be a complex and expensive process, requiring careful planning, implementation, and ongoing maintenance. Additionally, potential compatibility issues between the two systems must be addressed to ensure a seamless integration.

It’s essential to weigh the benefits and challenges of ERP integration with QuickBooks carefully before making a decision. By thoroughly evaluating the costs, intricacies, and maintenance requirements associated with integration, businesses can make an informed choice about whether integrating ERP systems with QuickBooks is the right solution for their needs.

Summary

While QuickBooks is an excellent solution for small businesses with less complex needs, ERP systems offer more comprehensive and customizable functionalities to support larger organizations with more intricate processes.

Ultimately, the decision to stick with QuickBooks, migrate to an ERP system, or explore the possibility of integration will depend on your specific business needs, growth potential, and operational complexity. By carefully considering the information presented in this blog post, you can make an informed decision that will best support your organization’s growth and success.

Q: What Are Considered ERP Systems?

A: ERP systems are software applications that help organizations automate and manage their core business processes such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, and supply chain operations. They provide data across various departments and offer features like accounts receivable and payable, general ledger, expense management, reporting and analysis.

Q: Is QuickBooks an Enterprise Accounting System?

A: Yes, QuickBooks Enterprise is an enterprise accounting system specifically designed for SMBs across multiple industry verticals.

Q: What is the primary difference between QuickBooks and ERP systems?

A: QuickBooks is designed for small businesses, while ERP systems are comprehensive solutions that integrate multiple business functions.

Q: Can QuickBooks handle complex inventory management tasks?

A: QuickBooks does not have the capability to handle complex inventory management tasks, which are better suited for ERP systems.

Q: What are the benefits of integrating ERP systems with QuickBooks?

A: Integrating ERP systems with QuickBooks provides numerous benefits, such as improved warehouse management, human resources management, and supply chain management.

This can help streamline your operations and enable greater efficiency in your business.

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